Applying for success: how to write winning job applications

Here at Colbern, we specialise in putting eager, qualified job seekers in touch with the employers who need them. Thanks to our expertise in this competitive area and our results driven ethos, we have built up a reputation throughout London as one of the city’s premier recruitment agencies, particularly for positions in the public sector.

In short, we love to help people find the right work environment for them. One area, however, in which we frequently see even qualified applicants make mistakes, is in the way they present themselves on job applications. Though many employers will simply accept a CV and cover letter, quite a large number will also want candidates to fill out an application and this still throws some job seekers.

That’s why we put together this guide to writing a professional application for any role.

Spelling always matters

We’ll start with an obvious one that still trips up countless applicants: spelling. Whether your ability to write well is pertinent to the post or not, frequent spelling errors are an alarm bell for recruiters, symbolising a lack of care and attention to detail on the part of the candidate.

Practice makes perfect

If you are filling in a paper application form, take two and use the first as a draft paper. If you are filling out an online application form, write up all your answers on a word processor first so you can re-read and edit them on a straightforward interface before pasting them in. Re-read, edit and re-draft with as much attention as you would pay to a CV or cover letter.

Leave no white space

The only time you should leave a blank space in an answer box is if the form explicitly requests that you do so. If a question does not apply to you but an answer is expected, either write N/A or, if there’s room, an explanation for why you are not answering.

Read everything twice

Like spelling, this might sound like a patronising tip, but you would be amazed how many people dive-bomb their chances by simply not filling out their application correctly. Be sure you fully understand what you need to do to complete the form, before you begin writing in it.

Keep these tips in mind when next faced with a job application and be sure you make the right first impression on your prospective employer.